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  • Writer's pictureBeth Erskine

Holiday Helper

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

Ah, the holidays are coming. With them they bring the inevitable holiday preparation panic: decorations, parties, gifts, food, and children home from school. Often overlooked in this frenzy is preparing for that other holiday staple: House Guests. We love when they arrive; we really love when they leave. Below are some often overlooked issues in getting the house -guest ready. We can’t guarantee tackling these head on will keep your mother-in-law at bay, but it can’t hurt to try.


When people come in, where do they put their coats and shoes? Make room now for the extra bulk. If you don’t allow shoes indoors, be sure to provide storage for the extra load. Invest in a collapsible shoe rack that sits to one side of the entrance. It’s also quite nice to have a basket of extra gloves/hats/scarves/umbrellas for guests that weren’t prepared for the weather.


Are there enough places to sit? Are there enough places to sit after you’ve made room for the Christmas tree in the corner? You need to re-arrange the furniture to accommodate both the tree and your guests comfortably. Move larger pieces to storage units for the month, and bring in a few poufs or dining room chairs. Be sure to scatter coasters around the room to keep drinks off the floor.


How many lights are in the room? If the only light is the overhead, or that one lamp from college shoved in the corner, it’s time to upgrade. Quite simply, you need a lamp in each corner of the room, an overhead light with a shade, and a lamp at each reading area. In the hallways and the bathrooms, it’s nice to have a nightlight, so there are no bumps in the night.


Is it cold? One person’s warmth is another’s tundra, so have some warm throw blankets handy. Best to skip the synthetic fibres; at this time of the year, they produce a lot of static electricity (great fun for the kids!) but little warmth, so better to spend on three good wool throw blankets and re-adjust the heating level. This is also a good time to review the central heating and hot water schedule.

Guest Bedrooms

How comfortable is the guest bedroom? This should be a haven, a place of refuge. Do you have bedside tables with lamps for each sleeping place? Even if it’s just a chair, having someplace to set personal belongings and a glass of water is wonderful. Pull an extension cord to power both sides of the bed, and include a UK power converter. Now, how’s the bedding? Each sleeping place should have 2 pillows of varying firmness. It’s a good idea to use both down and synthetic. I like to have a spare blanket at the foot of the bed, and I always try to use a duvet that is a size larger than the actual bed. And yes, all of this pertains to air mattresses too.

Overwhelmed? Need some help?

Consider booking our Holiday Helper package: three hours of professional design advice to ready your house for the holidays.

Originally published in The American Magazine Nov/Dec 2018

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